O Courel - Galicia
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Directions to O Courel
The Sierra de O Courel Mountains are botanically the most important natural area in Galicia. They are located south of the Pedrafita do Cebreiro pass connecting Galicia to the rest of Spain and create a natural border separating Galicia from León.
The mountains are drained by the River Lor and its rolling landscape and incised valleys make it perfect for hikers. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty with indigenous woodlands of oaks, chestnut trees and beech and the wildlife includes the wolf, wild boar and eagle owl. You will also discover stone churches and shrines, nearly all from the Middle Ages; Celtic castros, or forts; small houses with slate roofs and pallozas, traditional stone built with thatch roof dwellings.
El Camino de Santiago (St. James Way) enters Galicia at O Cebriero which s a good starting point on our journey to O Courel. O Cebriero is a hilltop village of pallozas steeped in history, one is now a Museum which is free to visit. The 9th-century pre-Romanesque Santa María la Real Church is the oldest fully preserved monument on the pilgrimage route and has a Holy Grail. It is also famous for its local cheese. It is also the perfect place to enjoy the amazing views of the O Courel mountains.Further along the road to Samos is the Statue of the Pilgrim (Monumento al Peregrino , alto de San Roque) a great point of contemplation for pligrims and to think about the journey ahead through Galicia to Santiago. But it is also marks the entry point in which to discover O Courel by taking the next road to Folgoso do Courel.
A Devesa da Rogueira is about 43 kilometres to the south of O Cebreiro. Before reaching the village of Visuña, there is a road to Rogueira, one of the ecological jewels of Galicia. 30 square kilometres of forest with an incredible variety of tree species. Rivers, pools and springs are common in this rich forest, as are underground water caves and caverns with a prehistoric past.
The drive from O Cebreiro to Folgoso do Courel takes us through the heart of O Courel. It is worth continuing this scenic journey as far as Quiroga on the banks of the dramatic River Sil canyon where many of the rivers of O Courel finally drain. A good point to stop for refreshment and enjoy the excellent local red wines,chorizo and pork dishes and local honey.
Then we can ress on and head for the San Julián Monastery in Samos. The monastery is still inhabited by monks. and was one of Europe's most important cultural centres during medieval times. Its cloister, 54 metres long, is one of the largest in Spain. The abbey also has guest quarters to accommodate both pilgrims and anyone seeking peace and sanctuary at this holy spot. The road from Samos back to O Cebreiro is also highly scenic.
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